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Ardent Leisure promotes Greg Yong as Theme Park Division Chief Executive
Ardent Leisure Group has announced the appointment of Greg Yong, its current Chief Operating Officer, as Chief Executive of its theme parks and attractions division.
Yong will take over from John Osborne, who has held the role since late 2018.
Today's announcement coincided with Ardent Leisure telling the market that Brisbane’s pre-Easter lockdown had “challenged” trading conditions by reducing visitor flow to its Dreamworld property on the Gold Coast.
In addition to the Brisbane lockdown, Ardent also cited (Northern Hemisphere) winter storms which affected most of its US sites, particularly in Texas, for setting back its $465 million company recovery plan.
However, the following the announcements the company’s share price rose 7% to 99¢ in afternoon trading (AEST), its highest in almost a four weeks.
Ardent advised that Osborne had decided to step down from the role for personal reasons but had agreed to consult to Ardent on several projects considered to be of strategic importance for the company.
Commenting on the change, Ardent Chair, Dr Gary Weiss advised “since John’s appointment as chief executive officer of our theme parks and attractions division in November 2018, he has overseen not only the resolution of the many legacy issues facing the business, but also skillfully and expertly led the business through the significant challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During his tenure, John has built an outstanding leadership team and positioned the business to restore value for Ardent shareholders over the coming years.
“It has been both a privilege as well as a pleasure to have worked alongside John over the last two-and-a-half years. He has been an exceptional and inspirational leader.
“We fully understand John’s wish to spend more time with his family after such a tumultuous period, and we are pleased that he has agreed to remain as a consultant to Ardent to assist in the delivery of several significant projects that are currently underway.
Dr Weiss said Ardent was delighted that Yong, the theme park division’s Chief Operating Officer since May 2019, had accepted the offer to replace Osborne.
He added “Greg has substantial experience in the theme parks industry in Australia and overseas, and has played a critical role as a key member of the leadership team in restoring the performance of Dreamworld and SkyPoint.
“We are confident that Greg will build on all that has been achieved in the business over the last few years.”
Explaining his departure, Osborne went on to say “after leading the business through a very challenging and transformational phase over the past two-and-a-half years, including the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe it is an optimal time for me to hand the reins over to Greg so I can spend more time with my family.
“I am incredibly proud of the fantastic leadership team that has been put in place over the last three years.
“Their commitment is unquestionable, and I cannot thank them enough for their hard work and the many personal sacrifices they have made to be part of the transformation of the business.
“Greg is an outstanding executive and leader, and I know that he and the team will build on the platform we have put in place and ultimately restore Dreamworld to its rightful position as the best and most successful theme park in Australia.
In a statement, Yong thanked Osborne for his “commitment, guidance and tenacity during what has been a formative period in the Dreamworld recovery”.
He concluded “John’s resolve throughout his tenure, particularly in the face of COVID-19, has been an inspiration to all of us.
“On a personal level I’m excited and humbled to take on the role as Chief Executive.
“As a proud Gold Coast local, the opportunity to lead a business that I grew up with means the world to me. I look forward to working with our incredible team to continue this transformation.”
Prior to joining Ardent, Yong worked for Village Roadshow Theme Parks.
He is also a member of the board of the Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA).
Images: Greg Yong (top) and Dr Gary Weiss (middle).
19th February 2021 - Queensland theme parks cut opening hours as guest numbers decline
10th December 2020 - Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigating Dreamworld safety incidents
2nd December 2020 - Dreamworld announces summer entertainment and new rollercoaster name
14th November 2020 - Gold Coast theme parks move forward with new rides
16th October 2020 - Theme park marketeers reach out to guests and new audiences
30th September 2020 - Ardent Leisure’s Dreamworld fine the biggest in Queensland workplace history
29th September 2020 - Ardent Leisure fined $3.6 million over 2016 Dreamworld deaths
17th September 2020 - Dreamworld and WhiteWater World reopen for holiday and summer seasons
14th August 2020 - Ardent Leisure to reopen Dreamworld on 16th September
25th February 2020 - Ardent Leisure shares fall after critical Coroner’s report into Dreamworld tragedy
8th February 2020 - Dreamworld permanently closes Rocky Hollow Log Ride
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